Summerland is home to one of Canada’s largest wine industries in Canada – the wineries are all connected by a system of roads called ‘Bottleneck Drive’, which is home to such iconic wineries as Sumac Ridge, Dirty Laundry, Thornhaven, 8th Generation, and Fitzpatrick. Summerland has a humid continental climate with hot, dry summers and cool winters. Late fall and most of the winter see very little sunshine, but Summerland gets more days with sunshine during the spring than any other place in Canada.
Dirty Laundry has grown faster than a grapevine in the Okanagan soil. In the last 13 years, they have gone from producing 1800 cases of wine to 35,000 cases per year. Their flagship wines, including Hush Rosé and the award-winning Pinot Noir, are enjoyed coast-to-coast in Canada. Through the vineyards were established in the 1970’s, the name dates back to 1800 during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. One industrious railway worker found that he could trade in hard labour and make more money if he opened a laundry business. Catering to his fellow railway workers, he operated mostly on weekends and soon realized that he needed a was to keep people entertained while waiting for their clothes. What started as informal card games quickly turned into a gambling den, then the addition of a brothel soon after, which the locals began to call ‘Dirty Laundry’.
Elevated on the slopes of Little Giant’s Head Mountain, Thornhaven Winery is fronted by its vineyards and cloaked in quite surroundings, where their courtyard patio over looks the picturesque landscape of Summerland’s valley floor and distant mountains. They have a total of 18.5 acres in three vineyards, boasting grape varieties of Pinot Meunier, Merlot, Orange Muscat, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Gewurtraminer. They use both French and American Oak barrels as well as stainless steel tanks to accommodate discerning tastes of those who either enjoy oak or not.
Sumac Ridge is the very first operating estate winery in British Columbia, which is celebrating it’s 38th year as of 2019. Founded by Harry McWatters in 1979 in Summerland, the area’s combination of sparkling water, brilliant sun and fertile land, makes it ideal for growing grapes. Sumac Ridge has been dedicated to producing 100% BC Grown grapes since its inception and have set the standard for high quality wines.
Pieter Smits purchased Back Door Winery in 2015. After renovating the space, he opened the doors to the new tasting room in the summer of 2016. Approximately two-thirds of the vineyard are planted in white varieties – Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat Otonel – reds varieties are grown on the remaining third – Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
The Schales family history of wine making dates back to 1783, in the small Rheinhessen village of Dalsheim. It still operates today, making Bernd Schales a true ‘8th Generation’ winemaker. Opened in 2007, 8th Generation Winery grows grapes in three different vineyards: Summerland, which houses the wine tasting room, Okanagan Falls, and Naramata Bench.
Giant’s Head Winery is one of the award-winning Summerland wineries located at the start of the Scenic Bottleneck Drive tour route. The winery overlooks Lake Okanagan below the Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, BC. The owners, John Glavina (which coincidentally means “Giant’s Head” in Croatia) and Jinny Lee, have been growing grapes and making small case-lot artisan wines since 2008 – a family estate winery, they have full control over the vineyard and winemaking practices, with their approach being simple; make small batches as the grapes ripen, and then blend the batches based on their characteristics.
Okanagan Crush Pad is a state-of-the-art winery which features concrete tanks, with a guest center built into the heart of the facility, offering visitors a rare glance into the art of winemaking. The tasting room and wine shop offer a place to sample and buy wine, while watching the action in the cellar. The team creates wines from organic grapes, using native yeast for fermentation and minimal intervention. The wines reflect the region’s unique high mountain/northern desert setting, one that is noted for its intensely hot, short growing season with cool evenings. Okanagan Crush Pad is Canada’s first purpose-built custom crush facility where several different labels are produced, including Haywire, Narrative and Free Form.
Using estate-grown organic grapes, hand harvested and gently pressed in stainless steel tanks, Summergate Winery’s wines are slowly fermented in small batches resulting in amazingly fresh, crisp, and a fruit forward wine series. They use natural techniques such as reduced crop yield, special canopy and vineyard management practices, and working without petro-chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers to ensure the production of high-quality grapes.
Lunessence Winery, a name that reflects working with the moon and the essence of nature, opened in Summerland in 2015, by wetland specialist Zhizhong Si. Si was drawn to the property because of its beautiful setting above Summerland and the location of two small marshes. The property is eight acres, in which 6.5 acres are used for vineyards and are connected by an underground seep. Sections of the vineyard require no irrigation due to the natural underground moisture. Soothing classical music is played throughout the winery and vineyard, which the winemaker believes helps to produce well-balanced wine, while using an European system of vineyard management.
Established in 2008, Sleeping Giant is an extension of Summerland Sweets, which dates back to 1962; the thriving store-front, agri-tourism business in Summerland which makes an array of fruit-based products, and is the only fruit winery in the region. Sleeping Giant produces 13 table wines and 8 fortified wines from 27 varieties of fruit, such as blackberry, strawberry rhubarb cranberry, and raspberry – which are sought after by top restaurants.
To join Uncorked Wine Tours on a journey through this scenic wine region, click here.
Or to join us for Bottleneck Drive’s annual winter ‘Light Up the Vines’ tour, click here.